(Employed) Culture Shock

When Good Man had been working for a few weeks he came home, flopped stomach first onto the bed, and mumbled, “You Americans work harder than Koreans.”

“What do you mean?”

“Koreans might be at work for more hours, but a lot of times we are just waiting for the boss to leave so we can leave. You Americans get more done.”

A few minutes later, he was asleep.


“My boss is about my age,” Good Man said.


“Well, that is already a little weird to me, but that is OK.”


Good Man frowned, “But he is also boss of someone who is older than him. And…is that OK?”

“In America, yes.”

Good Man clucked his tongue, “It is hard for me. In Korea, if you are young, you are junior. Middle-aged, middle level. Older, higher level. Maybe not everywhere, but most of the time. Here I don’t know who is higher level just by looking. And I don’t know what to call people.”

“You’ll figure it out,” I said, laughing.

“I know, but here you have to talk, too. In Korea, when someone higher talks, you just nod and say ‘yes.’ Here, they actually want to know what you think. Why are you asking what I think?”


One of the reasons I wanted Good Man to live here for a while was so he wouldn’t have to work the long hours Koreans work.

The joke’s on me.

Since he’s been employed, Good Man has been out of town (during the weekdays at least) more than he’s been in town. He’s been at company dinners (without the forced drinking)! He’s gone to bed at 4 am, and he’s been up before 4 am for conference calls. And he loves what he’s doing.

At first I was angry, and we got into some battles over housework and cooking. But it settled down fairly quickly and now the time we spend together is easier, calmer, and more relaxed.

Still, I’d prefer not to have the alarm go off at 3:45 in the morning!